Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Maple Grilled Pork and Autumn Vegetable Salad

Everyone is so gung-ho to jump on the Autumn bandwagon. I get it... ya'll like Pumpkin Spice lattes and leather boots. I like decorative gourds and Honeycrisp apples just as much as the next gal, but I'm a realist. All this leaf-crunching and corduroy are merely symptoms of what's to come. Chicago winter is coming. I feel very Game of Thrones saying that. 

From a food perspective, it's going to be at least seven months until I see a ripe tomato. Knowing this, I usually try to restrain myself from cooking big, warm cozy pots of chili and soup. There is going to be plenty of time for that... so much so that you'll probably stop reading this blog out of sheer boredom. 

Seeking balance, I put together a yummy salad that leant the freshness and grilled flavor of summer, while incorporating some of tastes of Autumn -- like maple, beets, caramelized onions, cider and sweet potatoes -- I find myself craving. 

Isn't my street pretty in fall? My tiny pup has been having a ball playing in the leaves. We even got him a new sweater. 

The marinade is simple.  A basic mix of maple syrup, olive oil and a bit of cider vinegar. Just remember, any good marinade or vinaigrette needs fat, bitterness and sweetness. We got it here. 

I lightly dusted my pork chops with applewood smoke rub, and tossed with the marinade.

One of my most favorite food things in the world... caramelized onion. It's candy. Candy that takes some serious patience, but will make anything better.

Slice as thinly as you can and cook over the lowest flame you can get on your stove. Toss periodically... this will take about 45 minutes. If you start this first and then make the rest of your pork and salad, it won't feel so long.

Sweet potatoes roast in basic olive oil, S&P.

Your onion patience will be rewarded.

Served with sliced beets and sunflower seeds. I just use the pre-roasted beets from Trader Joe's for stuff like this. Canned would work well too.

Maple Grilled Pork with Autumn Vegetable Salad
For pork and marinade
3 pork chops, approx. 1-inch thick
1 tablespoon applewood spice

1/4 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil

For salad

2 sweet potatoes, cubed
5-6 roasted beets, cubed
2 onions, very thinly sliced
1 bag baby spinach
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup

For vinaigrette

3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Start by thinly slicing onions. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over low heat. Place onions in pan and cook over very low heat, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes.

Toss sweet potatoes in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, S&P. Roast in oven until tender, about 30 minutes depending on the thickness.

Combine marinade ingredients and pour over pork. Allow to rest at room temperature for at least 20 minutes. Grill pork over medium, direct heat for 5 minutes per side. Allow to rest at least 5 minutes before serving.

Arrange spinach on plate and toss with beets, sweet potatoes and caramelized onion. Whisk vinaigrette together and lightly dress salad. Slice pork chop and place on salad. Finish salad with sunflower seeds.


  1. This looks amazing! I have two really dumb questions though - is cider vinegar the same as apple cider vinegar? And does the applewood spice go on the pork before the marinade or after?

  2. Cider vinegar and Apple Cider Vinegar are in fact the same thing! I would put the applewood spice on the pork while you mix up the marinade. As long as the flavor makes it in there... you'll be great!

  3. Could this work with pork tenderloin, or does it need to be pork chops?

    1. I'm trying it tomorrow by the way, it sounds fantastic!

  4. Any replacements for applewood spice? Can't find it anywhere!

    1. That was a good Kansas City spice shop find. Any BBQ spice mix should lend the balance of sweet and smokey. Just steer clear of anything labeled as "spicy" or "hot." I drop or two of Liquid Smoke would be good too!


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